Recent activity on Twitter from developer 4J Studios indicates that update 1.8.2 for the Xbox Live edition of Minecraft is deep into its development cycle, requiring just two more weeks of work before being sent to Microsoft for certification.
The tweets were made yesterday and include several interesting stills as well as a video titled ‘New Food’. The images include what appear to be an NPC Village, a ravine, a fully realised mine shaft as well as a stronghold. Players of the original PC version will be familiar with these elements as they were introduced sometime ago there and they are certainly a welcome addition here. Read the rest of this entry
In a typically quirky video from the good folks at Mojang, Markus Persson/Notch and Jens Berensten/Jeb have announced that this years Minecon convention will be taking place in Disneyland Paris. Now while this will come as good news to us European Minecraft fans, one has to wonder how well it will go down with our American and Canadian brethren.
According to Mojang’s site there will be more details coming soon, presumably including dates, ticket prices and price of the inevitable creeper with mouse ears beanie hat that must now become a reality.
As of last November Minecraft on PC and Mac had somewhere in the region of 16 million registered users and that is a number which continues to grow. Now the Minecraft phenomenon has come to the Xbox live Arcade (1600 MS Points), giving even more people the chance to enter randomly generated worlds from the comfort of their couch and according to the latest leader board information over half a million people are doing just that.
Asides from being slightly stripped down this new version of the game does not deviate from the core game play mechanics of its PC counterpart in any way, you break blocks, you place blocks, you gather resources and you craft them into items, it’s all very familiar. This version is however bringing a lot of new features to the table including a streamlined crafting system (no more trawling through the wiki), local coop play (providing you have a HD TV), a silky smooth single player frame rate of about 60 frames per second (this can drop slightly during multiplayer but nothing too significant) and of course a control system designed with the controller in mind.
Another important addition here is the tutorial mode where new players are given a quick rundown of how the game is played, what the hazards are and how you can survive them. While it is not essential for experienced players it does give you a chance to familiarise yourself with the control system as well as giving you an idea of what sort of structures and tools it is possible to create.
There are other notable differences in this version of the game, though these will vary in importance depending upon an individual’s familiarity with the original version. Veterans for example will notice how this is not the ‘final’ build of Minecraft that they play on PC, it is in fact akin to the beta 1.6.6 which does not feature things like sprinting, the hunger bar, sticky pistons, stackable food etc, there is no creative mode either so you have to work for resources whether you like it or not.
The world size is also currently limited to 1024 by 1024 blocks which is hugely different to the effectively infinite world limits of the PC version (approx. 32,000,000 meters/blocks) though it is still pretty big. Many of these ‘missing’ features are expected to be introduced/fixed later in a fashion similar to the PC beta and alpha updates bringing the Xbox 360 version up to date with the PC version. Support for custom skins, texture packs and even mods are also rumoured to be in the works though there is no talk as yet of when these are going to go live.
In terms of gameplay Minecraft is pretty simple, in single player mode you are dropped into a randomly generated world (or one based on a ‘seed’) with nothing but a map in your inventory. It is up to you then to craft some tools and find shelter before nightfall when an assortment of nasty creatures will come looking for you. Light is hugely important to your safety in this game but don’t forget that Creepers are not limited to the darkness like other mobs. They will quite happily sneak up behind you while you mine, chop, fish or whatever and explode with enough force to kill you, sacrificing themselves to spite you. Of course the other mobs are quite capable of surviving during the day time cycle by hiding in the expansive cave systems and even occasionally under trees so stay alert!
The streamlined crafting system makes it far easier to create items with the only limit being whether or not you possess the appropriate materials for its creation. Some aficionados may feel this makes the game too easy but it does make up for the loss of precision that has resulted from the loss of the mouse as an input device. The control system overall is pretty strong however with the only limits being when swimming as you need your right thumb free to keep from drowning making steering yourself a little tough.
Local and online play is hugely fun with local play allowing for up to four people while online play allows for up to eight. However it is important to point out that online play but does not take place in perpetual worlds like those hosted on the online servers, instead the game is hosted by one player and when they log out the game closes for everyone. The world save file is held by the host which means that nobody else can play on it unless the host is playing on that map. There can also be some lag issues when playing online but these are pretty negligible. On the plus side this makes it far easier to get everyone to sleep at the same time allowing for the setting of spawn points.
All in all Minecraft is a hugely fun game whether it is played with friends or alone, and although the sometimes repetitive gameplay will not be suited to everyone. It must also be said that experienced players of the PC game may not be able to justify the expense of buying this unless they really like the idea of local multiplayer or want to have a bit more of a ‘vanilla’ experience. Newcomers however will probably find a lot to love here provided they bear in mind that Minecraft is a world where you get out what you put in.
In news that should really surprise no one Xbox live’s Major Nelson spoke briefly on his bog here about the hugely succesful launch of Mojang and 4J Studio’s Minecraft Xbox 360 edition:
‘It’s official: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has has broken all previous Xbox LIVE Arcade digital sales records, selling more than any other title in the first 24 hours on Xbox LIVE Arcade. I just looked at the leaderboards and there are over 400,000 people playing…so that will give you an idea at how well it is doing.’
The previous owner of this now shattered record was Trials Evolution which released only last month making this quite possibly Microsoft’s most succesful summer Arcade schedule to date,well if you ignore Fable Heroes and Blood Forge that is.
This really doesn’t come as a shock though I would be interested to know how many of these users are new to Minecraft and how many like myself, have been playing the PC version before now. I have put a good bit of time into the game over the last two days (review on the way!) and have to say that I have been enjoying it quite a bit though I can’t see myself giving up on the PC version just yet, at least not until the version on Xbox is updated to the current ‘final’ build on PC and we get some form of mod support. Also I want my custom Wolverine skin, Steve just looks boring in comparison.
Regular readers here will probably know by now that I am a bit of a fan of Mojang’s fabulous Minecraft, as such it would be remiss of me to not put up a post letting you know that this week sees the release of the Xbox 360 version which will be available on Xbox Live Arcade on Wednesday 9th of May. The highly talented guys over at Hatfilms put together a trailer (which can be seen below) as well as some preview game play that can be seen at their website or on their YouTube channel.
I am hoping to have a review up soon after the games release so be sure to check back here soon! Also let me know if any of you want to play some coop when the game comes out as there looks to have been a lot of effort put into the multiplayer mode and it looks pretty fun.
Welcome back to the Arcade Next news, we’ll pick up directly where we left off earlier by moving onto Lionhead Studios Fable Heroes, which is due to be released on May 2nd at the humble price of 800 MS points. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, who made the original announcement of all the Arcade Next title’s here a little while back, this will be a hack-and-slash adventure which;
“Delivers a fresh spin on the “Fable” franchise with a unique art style and gameplay that takes playful competition to the next level. Whether on the couch or using Xbox LIVE, up to four players work together to defeat enemies while also competing with one another to collect gold coins and level up.”
Now I LOVED the original Fable, I still have the disk and still play through it every now and again, so keeping that in mind I gives me no pleasure to say that Fable Heroes leaves me a little cold. I have really fallen out of love with this franchise since Fable III, which although it was kinda fun, just didn’t inspire my interest like the Xbox original. Four player coop could well be pretty fun if you have the right crowd but to be honest if I want to play a good hack and slash adventure game on Xbox 360 I will be playing Torchlight, again, cos its ace, go get that instead. Maybe if more people buy that Torchlight II will be released on Xbox live (stupid file size limitations suck!).
Finally we come to what is possibly going to be my personal favorite from the Arcade Next season, Minecraft: Xbox 360 edition from Mojang. I am a minecrafter, I bought the game a while back on PC when it was still in alpha, and have been addicted ever since. I’m pretty excited at the prospect of being able to play the game I like so much on my console with the big TV especially given the numerous additions that have been made to the PC build that my bog standard desk top PC struggles to handle (need a new graphics card I know!). The video below is one of the many gameplay videos that are available over at YouTube, most of which are of varying quality but the one below is one of the best though be warned it is 12 minutes long.
There is a new simplified crafting system and of course the controls have been fine tuned to better suit the Xbox 360 controller. There will also be split-screen multiplayer which should be fun as well as Xbox Live online play so prepare for some serious greifing people! According to the wiki, the game when released will be the equvilent of the Beta 1.6.6. build with Mojang planning to release updates after the game is released to bring it closer to the current PC version though the console version may always lag a little behind.
Mods and texture packs have also been mentioned though I don’t know if these will be free or if Microsoft plans to charge for them. Minecraft is set to be released on May 9th and will set you back 1600 MS points. Well that’s all for now folk’s, please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think of these games, will you be picking any up?